Allium seed germination
Sun, 09 Mar 2003 18:57:11 PST
Diane Whitehead wrote about wanting a chart that would better summarize seed 
germination requirements of various Allium species.  I too would like to see 
such a resource, but must admit to being personally negligent over the years 
keeping any germination records.  So I will generalize.

I find that those species that have thin flake-like seed, or angular 
crescent-shaped seeds, generally germinate readily when exposed to cool, 
moist conditions outdoors, after 2-6 weeks.

Those species that have hard, round, pellet-shaped seeds, generally require a 
longer cold period of stratification, and may require a year before 
germination.  The Melanocrommyum alliums (giganteum, karataviense, etc) fall 
within this catagory, as do a large percentage of the western American 

A few comments on Diane's Allium germination records:

>A.flavum ssp tauricum - 10 days.  A couple which 
>germinated in March 1998 flowered in summer 2002.

I'm going to guess that you held the seedlings in pots.  I have a similar 
experience with plants in seedling flats or pots, taking 3 or 4 years to 
bloom.  I have found that if the seedlings are planted out in the garden the 
first year they germinate, they will flower the following spring.  Regularly 
I have beds of 1-year old flowering seedlings.  The inflorescence size is 
typically under-sized the 1st year, but in the second year you'll get full 
sized blooming inflorescences. It might take 4-5 years to determine the 
growth characteristic of each seedling, whether a good prolific clumper or 

Please note, the following are almost never available true from seed: 
anisopodium, forrestii, and suaveolens.  
The first species is grown frequently (it's no great beauty) so it's 
surprisingly why this species is always misnamed in the seed exchanges.  I do 
not believe that A. forrestii is in cultivation.  After a dozen or more years 
trying to get the true A. suaveolens, I was sent seed of the true plant from 
wild-collected source years ago and still grow it to this day.  It is very 
likely that plants you've grown from seed are not true... typically A. 
senescens usurps the name.

>A. siskiyouense - 10 days
That sort of short germination time for this species surprises me.  I've only 
had it germinate after a much longer time, and have yet to bring a bulb to 
flowering stage.

A. splendens v. kurilense - 3 weeks
There is no such thing as splendens v. kurilense.  I was very interested in 
this name because it shows up all over the place, so I wrote to a couple 
botanists involved with the genus Allium, botanists who have worked 
extensively in the russian, mongolian, siberian, and asian flora, and they 
claim that there is no such species.  One such botanist that has studied the 
"splendens/lineare/strictum" group more than any other; Dr. Friesen, confirms 
that there isn't anything by this name.  So it's any one's guess what the 
seedlings will turn out to be.

Mark McDonough        Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States    "New England"               USDA Zone 5
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